A homeless woman's harrowing description of life on the streets of St. Louis has resulted in an outpouring of sympathy and assistance for her and her 1-year-old son, KTVI reported.
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Melena Johnson cried as she described her life over the past year when she was interviewed by the television station Nov. 2. She said she was sleeping in vacant buildings until police boarded them up, forcing her to sleep on the sidewalk. She said she is facing fines for sleeping outdoors.
"I could give up, man. I've been running for a long time. There ain't nowhere to go. They're not helping me," Johnson told KTVI. "St. Patrick's, you have to call a hotline to get a place to stay out of the cold. Why do they need your identity, Social Security card or birth certificate to stay warm?
"There is nowhere to go. I have a warrant for sleeping on the sidewalk. I didn't have anywhere else to go but the sidewalk. He said that 'if you come back, I'll write you up.' I went back to the heat and sat there to get warm. He wrote me a ticket. I said that before I go to jail for sleeping on the sidewalk, the jail system won't get a dime from me. You'll have to catch me first before I pay you for sleeping on the sidewalk.”
Johnson's interview has been seen by thousands of people and several have reached out to help, KTVI reported.
One person made a 90-minute drive to pay Johnson’s accommodations for a week at a downtown St. Louis hotel, the television station reported. The man bought her groceries, clothes and other items.
“He’s been a blessing to me,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that a woman traveled from Chicago and bought her a box of clothes and food, while people from Philadelphia also traveled to help her.
"I never thought that people on this Earth loved me in these 40-something years. It turns out to be something different," Johnson told KTVI. "I don't think I should think like that anymore when there is someone out there caring for me, and they don't even know me."